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PAWTUCKET â€” This did not resemble your typical second-place vs. third-place battle.
In fact, Thursday afternoonâ€™s Division III showdown between Davies and Shea resembled a mismatch between a team battling for the division lead and a team saddled with a losing record and no hopes of grabbing a playoff spot.
The Patriots collected 12 hits and took full advantage of a season-high 12 walks and eight errors by the Raiders, and the end result was a stunning 15-1 rout before a large gathering at Max Read Field that was halted after five innings by the mercy rule.
The last time the Patriots (12-1) and the Raiders (8-4) dueled each other back on April 20 in Lincoln, Davies found itself on the winning end of a 4-2 score.
And while he was happy with that win, Davies coach Scott Cooper was less than pleased with his teamâ€™s play on that day, but in Thursdayâ€™s rematch, the Patriots made their coach happy by turning in a strong all-around performance, not only with their offense, but with their errorless defense and the solid four-hit pitching of freshman ace Madison Goodhart.
â€śThe last time we played them, it was an ugly game on our part and we were also missing our [No.] 4 and 5 batters in our lineup,â€ť said Cooper. â€śBut I thought the kids played much better today. We went out there and we did what we had to do. What we set out to do was exactly what we did.â€ť
Unfortunately for the Raiders, who were 24 hours removed from a 10-0 mercy-rule defeat to first-place Central (13-1), they turned in arguably their worst showing of the year, most notably on defense and on the mound, and it was that ugly effort that clearly disappointed their veteran coach, Mo Jackson.
â€śWe were terrible,â€ť admitted Jackson. We walked the first four batters [of the game], we made some errors, we didnâ€™t hit. We were terrible. Did we look like an 8-3 team today? No way. Hopefully, we can rebound against Hope tomorrow. We should be able to win the rest of our [regular-season] games, but anything can happen.â€ť
The Patriots zapped all the drama out of this game by scoring five times in the first inning and four in the second, and they only used five hits to help generate those runs.
The top of the first started out with consecutive walks to Goodhart, Kaitlin Flynn, Rosaliz Torres, and Madison Cooper, with the first three batters each walking on four pitches.
Back-to-back infield errors plated two more runs, and Victoria Lopes smacked a two-run single to center to kick off what would be a four-RBI afternoon for her.
In the second inning, Wilmarie Cruz and Caterina Martinez belted run-scoring doubles to left, and the Raiders added fuel to the fire by committing three more miscues.
After the Patriots extended their lead to 12-0 in the third, the Raiders scored their run in the home half of the inning when Jacelyn Senecal reached on a fielderâ€™s choice grounder, stole second base, and scored on a two-out single up the middle by Randi Gauvin.
Lopes not only finished the day with her four RBIs, but she joined Flynn, Cooper, Cruz, and Martinez in collecting two hits apiece. One of Cooperâ€™s hits was a ringing double to left in the third that she belted on a low pitch that bounced in front of the plate.
Ashley Cuccorelli also reached base and scored four times, Cooper added three runs, and Cruz, Cooper, and Martinez each ended up with two runs batted in.
Leadoff batter Jenna Senecal collected two of the Raidersâ€™ hits.
The Patriots will conclude their regular season next week with games against Hope and Bishop Keough, while the Knights, who sit a half game ahead of Davies in the standings, has just a mid-week matchup against the Koalas awaiting them.
Both clubs are expected to run the table on their remaining opponents and earn a share of the regular-season title. With both teams splitting their regular-season series (Davies won their season opener, 4-2, and Central won the rematch, 9-6), a coin flip may be needed to determine which team will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Division III playoffs.
â€śThe kids have been doing well,â€ť offered Cooper. â€śItâ€™s been a team effort all season long and itâ€™s been great to see. Weâ€™re very excited and weâ€™re doing to do our best to try to win the whole thing.â€ť
As for the Raiders, they need just two more wins to sew up the No. 3 seed. After todayâ€™s game at Hope, they will wrap up the regular season next week with games against fourth-place Bishop Keough, Central Falls, and Block Island.